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Conversation over Clothes

Written by Elizabeth, Team 1

Her name was Shelly.

She sat outside her home on a small wooden chair, methodically washing clothes in a large, pink, plastic basin. Her pregnant belly protruded past her thin white T-shirt. She looked tired, worn.

When we made our way up the hill to her home, she wasn’t smiling. Just concentrating on her task, not making much eye contact.

Our translator, Jude, explained to her that we were there with Mission of Hope to learn more about her village and its needs. She agreed to let us stay, and we all took seats on the ground around the laundry basin. The view from the hill was distractingly beautiful, a powerful backdrop to what God knew was about to happen.

We talked with Shelly for a while. She shared that she lived in the home with her husband and they were expecting their first child in February, a girl. She said they needed water and had gone three days without it before. All during the conversation, she still washed, rubbing the clothes back and forth in the suds, wringing out the water, placing the clean clothes in a similar black basin, repeating.

As I watched her wash, I felt the Lord gently nudging. “Ask to help her,” He whispered.

Unsure how this would go, I asked Jude to ask the woman if she could teach me what she was doing.

She looked at me, surprised I think. I moved onto the rock closest to her, dove my hands into the basin’s soapy water and followed her methodical motion. Instantly, her shoulders relaxed. She smiled, laughed at my white girl clothes-washing skills (or lack thereof). We talked with her for nearly an hour, about faith and family and the nerves of raising a child. All the while, she and I washed the clothes. Actually, I’m pretty sure I washed two shirts in the time she washed ten, but who’s counting?

This story has nothing to do with me and everything to do with the grace of God. He washes us clean from our sins so that we can tell others this good news too. Shelly, praise God, was a believer and sister in Christ. And while I doubt we’ll be washing clothes when we meet again in heaven, I can’t wait to see her there and celebrate God’s provision.

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